Comedy is a tough game to get into. The hardest thing is to be funny. Sure, you may be able to make your girlfriend laugh, but you probably couldnít lace up the boots of Red Grant. The veteran comic has had his face plastered on television shows such as Def Comedy Jam and Comic View, movies (The Last Stand, The University Player) and is now coming to a venue near you.
Now the host of the widely popular and successful, Pimp Chronicles tour, Red Grant aligns himself with Katt Williams. Together theyíve busted guts and brought tears to thousands of eager fans. But Red Grant isnít a slouch himself.
The comic du jour sits down with HHDX as he discusses the rise and fall of Comic View, why comics just arenít the same no more and explains why him and Katt are representing the new generation of comedians.
HHDX: Your face is familiar, yet still vague to the mainstream public. How did you get your start?
RG: I got my start in Washington, D.C. when I was 19 Ĺ years-old. I was doing the local clubs until the producer for Def Comedy Jam saw me and put me on the show. From there I appeared on BETís Teen Summit as their New York correspondent and continued to travel the road doing shows.
HHDX: Aside from your current gig with Katt Williams Ė what has been your most memorable moment in your career?
RG: Thatís a good question. I think my most memorable moment in my career was when I did my first film with my film company, MovieOs. I had written, directed and starred in it the film. It was called Family Reunion: The Movie. It had Michael Colyar, Reynaldo Rey, Jennifer Johnson [HipHopDXís Beauty & Brains girl] and Shar Jackson. One of my most memorable moments in the business would have to be, being on tour with Katt. This tour is real memorable! Weíre doing about six shows a week. The audience loves it. My energy is high. Iím the host of the tour, so I get them all started. The people love Red Grant right now. As long as you can be funny, the audience loves it.
HHDX: Now, you were a mainstay on Comic View for numerous years. How do you feel about the seriesí run from the beginning till now?
RG: I got mixed emotions about it. I think that Comic View gave me a lot of opportunities, but it gave people who werenít super talented an opportunity, also. I think that everyone should get an opportunity, but I think the show got watered down over time. Comic View was definitely a blessing for my career, but I think a lot of comedians have to work better on their craft to showcase their range.
HHDX: What has been the most significant change with the show that youíve noticed?
RG: I think that you had to have enough people to support the means. They had to reach out to as many [comics] as they could. For the most part, they were pulling in people who were sending in tapes who were probably not doing comedy for that long. The cream always rises to the top though. Youíre able to outshine everyone when youíre constantly on the grind and talented to boot. Itís a hustle out here.
HHDX: Do you think that there can still be a success story, like an Eddie Murphy or even Bernie Mac, in comedy?
RG: There are plenty success stories that are out there. How could I say it without being disrespectful to the game? I got a lot of respect for the old heads: Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, my man Robin Harris; these are the people that I look up to. A guy like Martin Lawrence took his craft to television and film. The Kings of Comedy tour did it well and created some careers for themselves, but those guys arenít doing what weíre doing now. Theyíre making money in different fields. Katt Williams, Red Grant, there are a number of people who are really going to kill the market. Theyíre going to shine like superstars. There are three levels of being a star. You can be a star, a superstar, a megastar, and then you can be a planet. Until you become a planet, youíre still growing. Thereís room for a lot of people to get it. Katt is a go-getter. Heíll tell you straight up, ďIf youíre going to get it like Iím getting it, then you have to have that work ethic!Ē Comedians are fighters. If you ever seen them work, theyíll be drenched in sweat. If youíre not built for this, then youíre going to fail.
HHDX: So, what do you think are yours and Kattís responsibility to the comedic game as representatives for a new movement of comdedians?
RG: Ah, man, thatís a deep question. Thatís probably the deepest question that Iíve been asked. We have a responsibility to our families and to respect the game, as far as how it gets played. A young comedian called me asking me for advice. I told him that you have to be as funny as you are off-stage, on-stage. I donít turn my back on the young guys in the game. If I say that Iím going to be the best, I have to put that work in. Thatís my responsibility to the game. I want to take comedy to a level that itís never been before. I want to own companies. My company has produced seven shows for Viacom. Comedy is a big thing for me! Itís not just one element. I want to teach people that thereís more to it than just jokes.
HHDX: How important is it to be diverse in comedy?
RG: You can only tell jokes for so long. You donít see too many 60 year-old comedians still hitting the stage hard, unless theyíre working Vegas. Most of the comedians, when theyíre on stage, theyíre a certain age. So, after comedy, what do you have to do? I want to be like Stan Lathan. I want to do more behind the scenes work. I want to be like Russell Simmons. I want to go as deep as I can possibly go in this industry. Believe me, there are a lot of hungry comics out there. If you slip, theyíll eat you up! I fear a couple of people. Itís like a respect fear. Katt is one that I respect a lot. The energy that I put out, most wouldnít be able to follow it. But he comes up and does it effortlessly. I think thatís the respect level that we have with one another.
HHDX: How much of a change has comedy made since the days of Richard Pryor and George Carlin?
RG: You knowÖ it has definitely changed a lot. Pryor talked about some wild stuff! He lived on the edge with some of the stuff that he talked about. So, now comedians can now talk about anything and it gets accepted. You have Bad Boys of Comedy or an HBO special and itís a whole Ďnother level of comedian. I donít think anyone has reached the level of telling stories like Pryor. He was a great actor when in character. The closest has been Dave Chappelle. He takes you on a journey. I study these guys. Iím getting close. They understand how to stay in character and thatís when you become the best.
HHDX: But it seems there a lot more stages for comedians to get dough, as opposed to fifteen years ago when all that was around Def Jam. So, does being able to get seen more easily allow the comedian to slip on their material?
RG: Believe meÖ comedians are slipping on their material everyday [laughs]! Itís a boxing match, I tell you. I write everyday. Iím always coming up with new creative stuff. I guess thatís what separates you from people whoíre going to be at the top of their game and those who arenít. If youíre not pushing yourself, youíre going to stay where youíre at. I donít sleep at all. I live and breathe this stuff. I go on stage every night with a notepad in my pocket. When Iím in LA, Iím at the Improv, the Comedy Store or somewhere. Iím always going to work out. You knowÖ I want to stay with some new stuff in my pocket. Itís cool that cats arenít on it. I thank them for slipping. Theyíre making my job easier.
HHDX: Well, you used to have to be good to be considered a star, but now a lot of acts borrow from the legends, say a few cuss words and can have a TV show. How has comedy gotten to this point?
RG: I think itís because they donít make time for it. When you donít make time for what you love, then you take advantage of all the things around you. You see someone else working on their material. People borrow premises from other people and put them in their own jokes. A lot of people do that. Thereíd be fights in the comedy club because someone stole someone elseís material and did it right in front of them. I can talk about a tree or a bumblebee and make it funny. I can become anybody and anything. People live off of premises, I live off of life. You interviewing me is funny to me [laughs]. Plagiarism is always around [laughs]Ö and itís hilarious.
HHDX: Well, you have people accusing Carlos Mencia about stealing material from Bill Cosby and others Ė how do other comedians look at thievery?
RG: Itís real fights, man, real physical fights! I donít want to get into too many stories. One person on the Kings of Comedy tour will tell you that he steals jokes. I have heard him say that. Thatís what they do! I guess he got to do what he has to do. I donít stand around. You can have my jokes, Iím flattered. People try to laugh like me, make my faces like me, but they canít. Iím Red Grant, I created this and I love it.
HHDX: While out on the road with Katt Williams Ė what are some things that the public would not know about him?
RG: He has a big heart. Heís a very giving individual. Shucks, heís a family type dude. He believes in that. Thatís all I can say that. Heís one of the realest dudes that Iíve ever met. As far as giving, we went to Chicago to do the Pimp Chronicles, Part II and we went to Cabrini-Green Projects. There was no one out there until they saw Katt and people started coming out. He started giving out money to the people. There were roughly 200 people out there. Heíll give out lots of money, heís always giving out. Heíll always be blessed. Heís a kind-hearted dude.
HHDX: Youíre also dabbling in film and television Ė what are a few projects that you have coming up in the future?
RG: We have a new project called, You Talkiní ĎBout Me. The show is about guys who think theyíre funny and theyíre going against established comedians. We went to New York, D.C. and Los Angeles. Katt did the music for me. Kevin Hart and Joe Torry came and blessed it. DeRay Davis, Clifton Powell, Alex Thomas and a lot of street guys who you will know after this are on it. You can check out the trailer at http://www.recordplant.com/talkin. Itíll be headed straight to DVD in the Summer. We have the Pimp Chronicles, Part II tour and DVD. Thatís set to come out soon.
HHDX: Is there anything else that youíd want to tell the readers of HipHopDX.com?
RG: RedGrant.com. Go there! You can always find me on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/redgrantcomedy. Other than thatÖ I got fire under my boots [laughs] and weíll be coming to a city near you.